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The Europe Book

A Journey Through Every Country on the Continent

Book Review

book cover The Europe Book
Hardcover,  256 pages / 52 countries
9Ĺ x 12ľ  inches / 24 x 31 cm
Lonely Planet
US $ 40.00, UK £25.00
ISBN 978-1-74104-733-2

Lonely Planet is one of the world's leading guidebook publishers, with a stable of roughly 300 authors and an image bank that contains more than 250,000 travel photos. With its publication of The Europe Book, LP has drawn on its vast editorial resources to produce a sumptuous coffee-table book for both active and armchair travelers. The Europe Book's subtitle--"A Journey Through Every Country on the Continent"--gives an idea of the book's scope. Within its 256 large-format pages, The Europe Book has color photographs and Cliff's Notes summaries of 52 European countries, from Iceland to Azerbaijan.

The book is organized into eight sections:

Introducing Europe, which includes a sketchy historical timeline, a map, fun facts, and a series of "Great Journeys" (ranging from the classic grand tour to a pilgrimage from the French border to Santiago de Compostela.)

British Isles & The Low Countries, from Ireland to Luxembourg. (England, Scotland, and Wales are treated as separate countries, with the two Irelands being lumped together.)

Western Mediterranean, including France, Monaco, Spain, Andorra, Portugal, Italy, San Marino, and Malta.

Central Europe, featuring Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Slovenia.

Eastern Mediterreanean & The Balkans, including Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and Bulgaria.

The Black Sea & Caucasus, which features Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

Scandinavian & Baltic Europe, from Greenland and Iceland to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland to the ex-Soviet Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Themes of Europe, which covers a handful of miscellaneous topics as "Europe's outrageous landmarks," "Europe's unrecognized nations," and "Revolutionary ideas: six that changed history."

The country sections follow a standardized format, with each country getting about half a dozen pages for color photos, a description of the landscape and people, random facts, cuisine, a "top festival," and other snippets such as "essential experiences" to enjoy during a visit. The emphasis is on top-drawer photojournalism that evokes memories of Life Magazine in its heyday, but there's just enough detail in the text to whet your appetite for a visit to a country--and to make you think about places like Moldova or Azerbaijan that otherwise might not have crossed your mind.

Verdict: The Europe Book makes a tempting addition to any traveler's coffee table or library, and it's the perfect holiday or birthday gift for people who enjoy visually stunning books about European people and places.

Where to buy: The Europe Book is out of print, but you may be able to find it at a secondhand bookseller.

Other titles of interest: The Europe Book is the latest in a series of pictorial coffee-table books from Lonely Planet; previous titles have included The Asia Book, The Africa Book, The Travel Book, and The Cities Book.

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